Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This Is the Place, won eight awards. Her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, won three. She has been an instructor for UCLA Extension world-renown Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and her book The Frugal Book Promoter, now in its second edition, was named USA Book News’ Best Professional Book, and was given the Irwin Award. Her second book in the How To Do It Frugally series, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success is also a multi award winner. Her chapbook of poetry Tracings, was named to the Compulsive Reader’s Ten Best Reads list and was given the Military Writers’ Society of America’s Award of Excellence. She is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics Committee awarded her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of 14 “San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen.” She is on the respected Poets & Writers roster of poets.
Her website is HowToDoItFrugally.com .
She blogs writers resources at Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites pick sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com.
What inspires you to write?
Just about everything. Even scraps of ideas I have written on newspapers or magazines and put in a sugar bowl.
Tell us about your writing process.
Not too interesting. I answer my e-mail in the morning–usually after yoga practice. Then I spend an hour or to promoting my published work. Then I write. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately, because I can slice it between other projects (and because I love it!)
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh, no. No outlines for me. Well, OK. My nonfiction gets outlined because I do book proposals for them. In fact, I wrote a slim little book sharing with others how to write book proposals that work. The idea behind it is that no one wants to spend two days reading a book to learn how to write a book proposal. This should take about 30 to 40 minutes and tell an author everything he or she needs to know. Find Great First Impression Book Proposals at http://budurl.com/BookProposals.
As for characters. I know my characters. Most are based on real people. I don’t talk to them outloud but I read back what they say in my dialogue to make sure they sound like who they are!
What advice would you give other writers?
I think persistence is the most important quality. That’s easy if writing is in your soul. Then I think the most important thing to do is to get rid of the hubris. We all may think we know how to write, but there is always much more to learn. I believe that books are the most effective and frugal way to learn more with university classes following close behind. I say “University” because they vet their instructors. There are lots of writing myths floating around on the Web.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I got cancer and knew if I didn’t write that first novel I had always wanted to write, I might not get a chance. I started writing my HowToDoItFrugally series of book for writers (http://howtodoitfrugally.com) because I wanted to share with other writers the pitfalls I had fallen into and when I started teaching at UCLA, I wanted practical books, VERY detailed how-to books. So I wrote my own.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’ve published every which way. Traditionally. Self-published. Publishers who combine POD with traditional. E-books. Paperback. I believe there is a right way–or at least a BETTER way–for each title.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Novels, Creative Nonfiction, Short Stories, Nonfiction How-Tos, Poetry
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print